Monday, July 31, 2017


The weekend after AMA VMD was the AHRMA race at New Jersey Motorsport Park's Thunderbolt circuit.  I arrived Fri. evening shortly after a horrendous thunderstorm that rivaled a tornado.  Shredded EZups were collapsed every where and even bikes lying on their side in the mud.  There was some question as to what track conditions would be the next day.  Sat. was dry, but there were at least three places where water was still on the track.  I was quite concerned about this as I had a Continental ClassicAttack tire on the front and I had been told by many that this tire was no good in the wet.  I went and watched the rider school mock race, which had been held over from Fri. because of the weather.  There were two bands of water in turns #3 and #4, but I could see that one could go quite straight through them and none of the students seemed to have any problem there.
So, I went out in the group 2 practice and tip toed around.  In turn #10, there was a tar patch that looked very slick and I made sure I stayed inboard of it.  But, I focused so intently on the slick tar patch that I failed to notice how wet the track was around it and on the 3rd lap, I slapped it down.  I was unhurt, but the bike got torn up a bit.
The ERTT after I crashed it and before starting to work on it.
The windscreen was broken off and with it a bit of the fairing and the left handlebar was broken.

There was mud and grass everywhere.When I got it back in the pits John Stevens dove in and was a huge help kicking the bike back into shape.  We cleaned it a bit before we got the fairing and fuel tank off and found dirt in the carburetor.   The first order of business was finding a replacement handlebar and Mark Morrow came to the rescue on that front.  But this required pulling off the top yoke to slip the one piece 'clip-on' over the fork tube.  I dug through my spares and found a different perch and clutch lever as the perch is integral on the broken handlebar.
The replacement clip-on was much longer, but didn't pose a problem
 We carefully took the carb off, and there was no dirt down stream of the carb, so we took the carb apart and cleaned everything.  The rear brake pedal was pushed in and we had to carefully bend it back out without cracking it.  A little tape on the broken off bit of fairing, and I was ready to take the bike to have it re-teched.
ready to get re-teched
 I did a 'scrub lap' in the race before my first to check that everything was alright and it seemed good.
My first race was the bump-up class 500 Premiere, which was gridded first in front of 500GP and BEARS in the first wave and Sportsman 500 and Formula 500 in the second wave.  My arch nemesis and good friend Helmi Neiderer on his Seeley G-50, prepared by NYC Norton, got the hole shot, but a couple of the bears bikes came by before we even got to turn one.  Brad Phillips and Dan May on their BMWs and Stan Keys on his Norton Commando were pulling away as I was dicing with Helmi. Then Dan Mays bike seized and left a long rubber trail on the track.  I saw a big cloud of smoke  ahead, but then realized that it was steam from the hot motor flopping over into the wet grass outside turn #8.  Then Alex McLean came by on the 500 Manx Norton.  I got ahead of Helmi and chased Alex and finished just over half a second behind him in 4th over all, 1st in class.
My second race was the 350GP which was gridded first in front of Sportsman 350, Vintage Superbike lightweight, and Novice Production Heavyweight.  I was first off the line but Rich Midgely quickly came by on his CB 350 Honda and steadily pulled away.  And that's the way it ended with Midge about just over 7 seconds ahead of me, so I was 2nd overall and 1st in class.
Sat. evening, I spotted a bunch of vintage twins cylinder bike outside the condos at NJMP and I knew that they must be the Retro Tours group.  Sure enough, I saw Joel Samick in the on site restaurant and told him that I'd stop by after dinner.  I had a good smooze with the group, which were mostly return customers.  They had a good ride from Kennett Square, Pa., to the track and were headed to Delaware the next day.
Sunday, I had one good practice and then lined up on pole for the 500 Premiere, 500GP, BEARS, Sportsman 500, and Formula 500 race.  Again, Brad Phillips and Stan Keys on their BEARS bike came by before turn #1, but no Dan May because of his bike failure Sat.  Helmi and I went back a forth a bit and then Rob Hall came by on his 650 Triumph Bonneville.  Rob and I went at it and left Helmi.  Our bikes were evenly matched overall, though each had an advantage in different places, and we passed each other many times while closing on Stan Keys.  On the last lap, with me ahead of Rob, Stan had a slide out of turn #9 and ran off the track and I got by him and Rob had to check up when Stan came back on the track, so I finished 2nd overall, 1st in class.  Great fun.
In the 350GP, Sportsman 350, VSL, Novice Prod. H.W. race, Rich Midgely didn't start as he had crashed on a flat tire in a previous race.  Ake Smith, on his CB350 Honda, passed me going into turn #1 from the start, but I got him back in turn #4 and was never headed again, winning overall.
Four class wins and a first, 2 seconds and a 4th overall finish was a satisfying come back from crashing first thing.
One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing Art Kowitz' Kawasaki Bighorn road racer from the early '70s.  I have a soft spot for Bighorns as that was the first bike I road raced.  Art said he built the bike before he knew what he couldn't/shouldn't do and therefore came up with some innovative solutions.  The bike was raced by Ted Henter as a Junior with some success before Art raced it himself as a Novice.  He quickly advanced to Junior and won his first race as a Junior, which advanced him to Expert.  So, the Bighorn was sold.  The new owner put a headlight and kickstarter on the bike and took the fairing off and rode it on the street a few times, then put it away in a storage locker for 45 or so years.  He recently contacted Art out of the blue and said that Art should have it.  Art picked it up just a few days before coming to NJMP  and displayed it how he found it.

That's an H1R front brake and an A1R rear brake and swing arm, 35mm Certain fork and Koni shocks

One problem with road racing a Bighorn motor was being able to gear it tall enough, as it was designed as an enduro bike.  The clutch pushrod in front of the gearbox sprocket limited how big a sprocket one could put on.  Art eliminated the clutch pushrod and adapted A1 Kawasaki clutch release, which lifts the pressure plate from the opposite side.  The box you see with the clutch cable going to it behind the carb is this mechanism.
Art hadn't decided yet what he would do with the bike--restore it or leave it as is--a time capsule

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Mid-Ohio VMD

After the Roper TT, I went to Mid-Ohio for the AMA's Vintage Motorcycle Days, for the first time in four years.  For '14, '15, & '16 it conflicted with AHRMA NJMP, but the organizations finally got it worked out and the events were on consecutive weekends this year.  Mid-Ohio is a great track--in the dry.  When it rains, it becomes an ice rink, and in Friday practice it rained toward the end of the day and several people when down, including a couple of my garage mates, Harry Vanderlinden on his 550 GPZ Kawasaki and Francis Ganache on his 250 Ducati.  Stu Carter, with his new Kramer and his star cross 200 Honda and Eric Bozell (Eboz) with a GSXR 1000 Suzuki also were in the garage.  I arrived after Fri. practice was over.
Our garage with Stu's Kramer, my ERTT, Francis' 250 Ducati and Eboz' GSXR in the background
Sat. morning was cool and overcast and everyone agreed that the track was quite slippery, but rideable.  My first practice went well and I was even able to pass Todd Narduzzi on his 450 Honda but, in the second practice my motor started to run poorly with some misfire.  I looked over the ignition and cleaned the points, but didn't find anything obvious.
My first race was the 'bump-up' class, 500GP.  We were gridded in the front ahead of V-2, 250GP and Class C.  Todd Narduzzi pulled steadily away and I had a tussle with a CB350 but eventually pulled clear, when an RD 350 from V-2 came by and we went back and forth.  I made a slightly desperate move in the 2nd to last corner and almost lost the front end and the RD prevailed, so I was 2nd in class and 3rd overall.  But, the motor had run worse still.
Robbie Graber's RD 350 which finished 1st V-2, 2nd overall Sat.
I decided to check if I had water in the float bowl and, as soon as I touched the carburetor, I felt it move.  My intake manifold hose was split.  I had another hose with me, but that was split too, from the last time I changed it on 25 March, 2011.  So, I spooged some Seal-All into the split and wrapped the hose with vinyl tape and hoped that would get me through the weekend.
My split intake manifold hose
The next race was Formula 500, V-2, and 350GP.  The motor now ran great and I quickly got up to the F500 bikes and first got by Martin Morrison on his 500 Honda 4, then I caught Mark Morrow on his RD 400 based bike.  This surprised me as Mark goes very well, but later he told me that it was his first time at Mid-Ohio, and there's a lot to learn there.  I closed on the leader, Scott Mackenzie on his 500 Honda 4, here from Canada, turned the fastest lap of the race (more than 2 seconds faster than I had gone in the first race) and finished less than 3/4 of a second behind Scott, for 1st in class, 2nd overall.
Martin Morrison's 500 4 Honda
I decided to gear the bike taller for Sunday and took a tooth off the back.  I did a few easy laps in the one practice Sun. and liked the taller gearing.
For the 500GP race, I quickly got into 2nd and was chasing Todd Narduzzi again and it was looking tough.  Todd turned a fastest lap a little quicker than Sat. and I went slower than I had in the 350GP race.  But, finishing the 4th lap, Todd threw his hand in the air and pulled off.  I cruised to the overall win.  It turns out that Todd had something let go in his transmission--no lock up or bad noise, just no drive.
In the F500, V1, 350GP race I got up to 3rd, but Mark Morrow had figured out the track by this time and I couldn't hang with him.  And, Scott Mackenzie upped the pace considerably with a fastest lap more than 2.5 seconds faster than he had gone Sat.  Again, I went slower than I had Sat., though faster than in the 500 race.  So, I was first in class and 3rd overall.  Maybe the taller gearing hadn't been a good idea, though it felt better.
I was good getting back to Mid-O.  Good competition, a good bunch in our garage and the swap meet bigger than ever.
The moon rising over the swap meet
Stu Carter's new Kramer powered by a 650 KTM single
Stu's starcrossed 200 Honda with suffered ignition failure again and still hasn't finished a race.
In one of the infield displays was this beautiful Scott Flying Squirrel.
And then, a well patinated ES-2 Norton
Being a Horex aficionado, I was very interested in this 125 Rebel, a model I had never heard of

But, not interested enough to buy it; I've already dug the Horex hole deep enough for now.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Roper Tiddler Tour

I'm way behind on the blog as I've been to four back-to-back events, starting with the Roper Tiddler Tour, the social event of the season.  We had a record turnout of 48 riders.  Brother Doug laid out a superb route with 88 miles to the east in the morning, through Hadlyme, Lyme, Old Lyme, Salem, and East Haddam.  Tim Courts rode with me in the morning on his 250 Ducati ex-race bike.
Tim Court's 250 Ducati ex-racer with Tim in the middle, Rich Hosley on his right and Gordon Pulis on his left
Cockpit details of Tim Ducati. Note steering damper knob
I knew almost all the roads, so we jammed hard, Tim trusting that I knew were the road was going.  It had rained the night before. so there was some concern that the 5 miles of dirt road might be muddy, but it was perfect, with no dust.  In Old Lyme I went off the route to get gas, while Tim followed the route. But, he missed a turn and by the time he realized it and turned around, I had finished gassing up and, as I got back on the route, I see Tim coming from the wrong way and he slotted in right behind me as though it was planned.
Mike Peavey was riding his Moto Guzzi Airone Sport that he had recently put back together after a main bearing had come adrift, allowing the crank to move side to side.
Mike Peavey with his beautiful, but ill fated, Airone Sport
He had take a couple of short test rides and it seemed fine but, in the morning, it seized and Amy had to go pick him (and a couple of others) up with the trailer.  So, after lunch, I let Mike ride my Airone Sport and I rode my Horex.  This gave Mike a chance to compare the performance of the two bikes almost back-to-back and he pronounce my bike way faster than his.  I'm claiming to have the fastest Airone in the East, though Bill Burke is still trying to claim that his (which hasn't run in three or four years) is still faster.
The afternoon route was to the West and around 48 miles and also great roads.  After we got back, we tore into Mike's Airone and found that the crank pinion nut had come off allowing the crank to move to the left and the flywheel to foul the footrest.  The good news was that the main bearing had not moved and the hope was that replacing the pinion nut and tightening and loctiting it this time would  make the motor better than new.
A big party ensued and a few stayed over Sat. night.  We took a short ride Sun. morn and in the afternoon Gordon Pulis left for the New London/Orient Point ferry on his way home.  But, his 175 Honda stopped on the way in Waterford.  Doug and I went to pick him up and, when we got back to Haddam, quickly found that the cam wasn't turning while the crank was.  We dropped the motor and found that the master link had come off the cam chain because the tensioner was really worn.  I called Henry Sypher to see if he had any parts.  He was driving back from the USCRA race in Canaan, New Hampshire and said that, as a matter of fact, he happened to have a 175 Honda motor apart on the bench and had a serviceable cam chain and tensioner.  Doug drove Gordon up to Henry's as I was leaving to ride home, and got the bike back together then next day and caught the ferry 24 hours after he intended.  Not a bad recovery from a major failure on the road.
Mike Tomany and son Aaron's Puch twingles
Jamie Goodson's Allstate Puch
Dakota Martin and Roxanne rode this DS7 Yamaha two up with brio, despite it's oversized front tire
Nigel Griffen's 125 Ducati
Bob Young's(?) R27 BMW
Jeff Zelek's '67 YR-1 350 Yamaha

Craig Pedimonti's  '66 YDS-3 Yamaha.  About a third of the bike on the TT were two strokes

Edwina Stevenson arrives on her RD200 Yamaha 
This Ducati had been to the Giro D'Italia.  
Dave Miller rode this 125 Moto Morini Corsaro (Pirate)
Mitch Frazier with a trailer load.  He carried Janice Lazo, a complete novice, in the sidecar and she had a ball.  Jean rode the Honda
Dave Nichols' G-2 Matchless.  It came back on the trailer with a dead battery
The bike was built by Ad Coppens
A B-25 BSA